Test Taking Tips

Objective and subjective (essay) tests are the two main types of tests. The questions on objective tests are true-false, multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, or matching. For essay tests, students must be able to recall main ideas and details and organize them intelligently. These tests usually require short answers consisting of a sentence or two, a list, or longer discussion answers.

When students receive their copy of the test they should:

  • Read the instructions and be sure they understand them.
  • Plan their work, and work their plan.
  • Answer the easy questions first and then go back to the more difficult questions.
  • Write legibly.

Before beginning an objective test, keep in mind:

  • The answers are clearly right or wrong.
  • Look for the qualifiers in the sentence. Qualifiers are such words as: all, most, some, no, never, least, always, equal, maximum, greatest, not, less, mainly, highest, lowest, most nearly, best, etc. These are the keys to a sentence. Sometimes, substituting one of these words in a sentence will help clarify it.
  • For matching questions, read all the items to be matched to get an idea of the range of possibilities.
  • Fill-in-the-blank questions are more objective than subjective because the professor generally has something specific in mind, so try to fill in the answer that really belongs.
  • Always keep in mind that the context of a question relates to that specific course.
  • Be slow to change an answer because your first impluses are usually correct.

Points to Remember for Essay Tests

  • Knowing the "essay" of essay answers.
  • Students should remember the ideas learned in freshman English. Organization, unity, topic, sub-topic, thesis statement--to name a few--are integral parts of the "essay" question.
  • Striving for clarity.
  • Avoid wordiness; be direct in answering. The clearest writing is simple and direct.
    Avoid extraneous information.
  • To slip extraneous information (like ideas learned but not asked) into an essay is to water down and weaken the strong points included. Stay solidly with just the points called for.
  • Supporting your answers.
  • Not all essay questions require supported answers, and those that do, vary in type of support needed. Students should ask their professor if they are not sure what the questions require.
  • Knowing directive terms (compare, contrast, summarize, etc).

The following was provided by NIU's Counseling and Student Development Center.

Finals "High Performance" Checklist

Finals are a time of increased stress for nearly all students. While deadlines and the desire for good grades can be extremely motivating, excessive stress and anxiety can interfere with performance and result in a less than accurate picture of what was learned. A successful and stress free exam period can not be guaranteed. However, here are some ideas and tips that can help minimize anxiety and help students perform more effectively during exams. For more information, or assistance in implementing the below suggestions, stop by the NIU Counseling and Student Development Center or the Wellness Resource Center.

Food and Nutrition

  • Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables to build up your natural reserve.
  • Make a list and prepare some healthy snacks you can keep for use during studying or breaks.
  • Try to maintain regular meal times and eat healthy balanced meals. Your body will need all the help you can give it to serve you well during this time.

Sleep & Relaxation

  • Maintain as normal a sleeping pattern as possible.
  • Don't try and fall asleep until you've had a chance to calm down and relax.